Saturday, May 21, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 2.

Hi there,

Here comes the long awaited story of the second round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series.

  • It was on the Daly River.
  • The water was very dirty.
  • The fishing was real hard.
  • The camaraderie was great.
  • I fished it with Jason.
This year the second round of the TEBS as it is known around our part of the world, was taking place on the mighty Daly River.
And what a round it was... The water was really low for the season, despite the Daly round being much earlier than on years gone by. A few people damaged their props or got stuck on the sand. And more than should have been, came back without having caught any fish at all...
Not even some little cat fish.
But that was not our story, we did get some fish!

Now how dirty the water was?
Well take a look:

Daly River.

As you can see, the river was dirty and dangerous.
Dangerous for boat's outboards, and for lures that got snagged on so many drifting pieces of wood.
Yet, as we arrived near this spot, we caught up with Brett and his mate Karl. And Brett told us that he had caught four Barramundi the previous day, and to troll just there with a +10 lure.
Naturally I put a Reidy's Big Ass in the 008 colour, one of my all time favourite, at the end of my line and we started trolling.
We must have been trolling for about 10 to 15 minutes when I got a massive hit!
The hit was sudden, and the line immediately started to fly from my reel at great speed.
I could not stop it, no question about that.
It lasted a few seconds, then the line went slack, the fish had spit the lure...
This must have been a really big one and we both called it for a metery.
Wow, we thought, if it is starting like that, it will be a cracker of a weekend!
Well life is not like that, and it was indeed a great weekend, but with not many fish to play with.
It was going to be a long time before the next fish bite.

We then saw Brett and Karl again:

Paparazzi everywhere!

Yes they were getting ready to take some pictures, but not of us...
In fact they were getting ready to photograph Pete who had just caught a nice Barramundi:

The photographers at work.

And yes, I did take a photo too:

Pete with a nice fish.

This was a weekend where Pete was going to shine. Being one of two only to get his full bag of Barramundi (5).

Catch and release in action.

At least it showed us that their was still some Barra in this stretch of water.
This brought us to trolling it a bit more.
I was by then using a lure that I had found a bit earlier, floating by. It was a Classic +10 and as the saying goes: " A found lure is a lucky lure". I got a hit.
The line tensed and started to pull a bit on my rod.
We got all excited and I was afraid that the fish would go in one of the numerous snags bordering the river. But we got it in the boat, thanks to a great netting action from Jason. And I was on the board!

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

At 71cm (27.952756 inches), this was no monster, but still made me feel very content.
This newly found lure was a lucky one.
And look at the chrome on this fish!
It was release too, to grow bigger and fight another day.

Not long after, Jason got a rat of a Barramundi, too small to be a point scorer.

And that was about it for the day...
The river was as beautiful as it can be:

The daly river in the afternoon.

But it was time for us to go back to the camping ground.
On the way we saw some TEBS participants who had elected to sleep in their boat. Straight on the river ready to fish at night if the fish were to come on the chew.
But with what seemed to be a storm coming we went for the safe option.

Sailing back to camp.

The rain was only very short, and after a good shower and a steak at the camp, we fell asleep pretty quick. Yes fishing is exhausting...

On the following morning, the light gave a sensation of end of the world, or maybe new beginning...

Morning light at the Banyan Farm.

This is what I saw as I was getting out of my tent. 
And then we went to the boat ramp:

Light at the boat ramp.

There the light was a bit different, but still quite impressive.
No wonder I love going fishing so much. At any time of the day, there is something to look at.
Just wait to see...

Jason drove the boat past Brown Creek, a spot of very low water, where a few boats ran into trouble:

Jason driving his boat.

Not long after that, we were at the spot where I had caught my Barramundi on the day before.
And Jason line got stretched!
He was on!
The fish started by taking a good run, and quickly as I could, I opened the net.
Yes this was going to be the biggest fish of the day, but after a good fight we saw what kind of fish it was.
And Barramundi it was not...

Shark on the lure.

Yes the Daly too is a river with a healthy population of shark.
Even if we both felt slightly disappointed that it was not a Barramundi, we did have a good laugh about it. These sharks can give you a good work out on Barra gear.

Not long after I got my second Barramundi of the weekend.
As soon as it hit, I thought, Oh this is not a big one, but please be at least 50cm...
But it was only 48cm, not even a point scorer.
Still a fish is a fish, and it definitively made me smile.
It was on the same lure than my last fish too, the lucky found lure.

As we were cruising along the river, either trolling or casting our lures to snags and fishy looking spots. We kept an eye on all the crocodiles that we were seeing. Yes the Daly has a big population of large salt water  and fresh water crocodiles.
We then spotted a salt water one, that seemed to swim a bit strange.
So we went closer, once we realised that it looked pretty much dead.
And dead it was:

Dead crocodile on the Daly River.

It was floating along with the tide, and was really smelly. In fact you could even say that the thing stank like there was no tomorrow!
Now I don't know what killed it, but if that was another crocodile, it must then have been a very big one... Scary...

And this, was the story of the 2016 Top End Barra Series Round 2 from my own point of view.
The fish that I caught put me in the ninth position for the round and 19th on the overall scoreboard.
Which for me is not that bad really, even rather good.

We still had a great time, it was good to catch up with some mate, and to fish on that river where I don't go very often.
Thank you Jason for inviting me on your boat.

Yes we could have caught more fish...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fishing Elisabeth River.

Hi There,

For the first time, I went fishing the Elisabeth River, Thanks to an invitation from Brett.

  • I had never fished the Elisabeth River before.
  • The main target was Barramundi.
  • I got badly sunburnt.
Brett had told me on the phone to meet him at Palmerston boat ramp on the Lizzie River.
Now, after arriving in Darwin a bit over 19 years ago, I still didn't know where was the Palmerston boat ramp or the Lizzie River...
Looking for Palmerston boat Ramp on Google Maps gave me another ramp.
Looking for Lizzie River boat ramp, gave me a boat ramp on Elizabeth River, close enough, that must be the one.

I made my way to the ramp and arrived a bit earlier than planned, but Brett was already on the water, so all was good.
With the tide still a bit high, Brett decided to show me a spot where Queenfish always go feeding on a big tide.
And yes, they were around in big numbers, feeding like hungry chickens.
Brett started to get some fish on the fly rod:

Brett getting a Queenfish on the fly rod.

This was getting real fun, with double hook up happening on a regular basis.
Even if I kept loosing my fish.
I was using a small Rapala Skitter Pop and the surface strikes were very visual and exciting.
I finally got a fish to the boat and released it, and immediately started to cast again.
Got another nice small Queenfish on the same lure:

Queenfish on Rapala Skitter Pop.

This one I keep for a feed.
I then tried to put a chrome slice with a single hook on my line. The idea was to let it sink, and then try to bring it back in an as erratic as possible way, on the baitcaster, to see if bigger fish were swimming deeper down the water column.
I was getting hits on the drop, and finally got a fish to stick to the lure.
It was a small Trevally.
It was great fun and I could have done that for a few hours without getting bored. But the tide had started to slow, and it was time to go and try for some Barramundi.
The plan was to fish some little creeks sight casting to the Barra.

One of the many little creek on Elisabeth River.

The first Barramundi that we saw, was on Brett's side.
He made a perfect cast just a bit in front of it, and swam the lure past its nose.
The Barramundi didn't think twice and boofed the little lure with gusto.
Once it realised it had been tricked, it jumped out of the water and showed us his nice chromy sides, that was a healthy fish!
Now, netting a Barramundi is not exactly rocket science, but for some reason I had to have a few go at it, and it is only on the third try that the fish finally went in the net. Which was about time, as I was starting to stress that it was going to chew on the thin leader used by Brett.

A nice salt water Barramundi.

That was a good fish and it made us very optimist for the rest of the morning.
Well, we did see numerous other ones, to which I flicked lures, but without any good results.
I just was too excited to see the Barramundi swimming in clear shallow waters. I casted too far, or too close, when it was not behind the fish.
I missed my casts, I spooked the fish, and I didn't catch any on them.

With the wind starting to blow, we decided to go in another creek.
At the entrance of which was a crocodile trap.

Crocodile trap in the creek water.

Let's just say that it must have been a very clever croc living in that creek.
And that instead of taking the bait in the trap, he had eaten all the Barramundi of the creek.
At least that will be our excuse for not finding any fish there. 

The creek.

It was a beautiful creek, but we couldn't catch any Barramundi in there.

By now it was the morning's end, and I had told my daughter that I would take her shopping early in the afternoon. It was time to go back.

Thank you Brett for inventing me on your fine boat, I had a great time on the water, and saw new places that I had never fished before.

Yes I know, I have to learn to stop being excited as a kid in a lolly shop, when trying to sight cast at some Barramundi. 

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fishing Two Locations On The Same Day.

Hi there,

Yes we went fishing on two locations on the same day, and this is the short story of it.
  • We fished Corroboree Billabong and the Adelaide River.
  • We got fish on many different lures.
  • It was a long but great day.
On the Saturday afternoon, I got a message from Jason asking me if I wanted to go fishing on Sunday?
It didn't take long for me to realise that really, there was not much else that I wanted to spend my Sunday doing. 
The plan was to fish Corroboree early in the morning, and then zoom to the Adelaide Rived in the afternoon.
So at 5:00am we found ourselves on the way to the Billabong. And yes, it is at least for me the city boy, always a very beautiful thing to see, the Billabong waking up in the morning:

Corroboree Billabong in the morning.

We had expected to see a long queue of boats launching at the ramp...
Nobody was there, we had the place for ourselves.
With no one else there, we decided that we could try first to have a few casts in the lilies just on the right of the ramp.
Well people often say that in fishing you have to do the miles to get the smile, but not this time.
We had just launched, it was not yet 7:00am, and just like that, I was on to a beautiful little fresh water Barramundi:

First Barramundi of the trip. Akame!

No it was not a giant at 65 cm (25.590551 In.), but hey, I was happy as one can be. Just a few minutes on the water, a dozen casts and we had a fish was on board.
Oh how that Barramundi fishing seemed easy just then. Well it was going to be a little while before the next Barra. But other fish were to be caught in the interim.
Yet with no other fish taking our lures, we decided to go for a bit of a troll along the waterways.
And simply enjoy the morning light.

Lilie pads at Corroboree Billabong.

A former colleague from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, had told me that if I could one day bring him back a Saratoga or Scleropages leichardti, as it is  called by the people of knowledge, for the museum collection. Well guess what? We hadn't been trolling for long, and once again I was On! This time to a nice little Saratoga who had taken an unhealthy liking to my Reidy's lure:

Saratoga on the Big Lucifer lure.

My first Saratoga of the day.

Mission accomplished, I had a Saratoga and it was going to go in the museum collection.
As such, we recorded the GPS coordinates of where it had been taken, the time (7:45am), and depth at with the lure was swimming (2,5 metres).
Sometimes simple little things like this makes me happy.

We then started to have a lot of success with the Tarpon, and it wasn't that hard because they were everywhere.

Jason with the first Tarpon of the day.

They were good fun, and some of them were really fat and hit hard, for such little fish.

Pandanus on the bank.

We even tried to fish with some small soft plastic vibes, and I got a nice Saratoga with them, and Jason got one too:

Saratoga on the small vibe.

Between the Tarpon and Saratoga it was great billabong fishing.

Jason working another Tarpon.

Still, I wanted another Barra, and started to think that for it to happen I would have to cast deep in the lilies again, instead than just on the edge of the lilies. Yet, I was not brave enough to flick a vibe with two treble straight in the under water forest made by the water lilies stems.
So I naturally opted for a small soft plastic, the smallest one in my bag, a little Reidy's of just a few centimetres, in the chartreuse colour. I would love to show you this lure, but really there is not much to show...
Judge for yourselves:

Can you see it?

Yes you can't see much, but let me tell you that the fish liked it.
With the temperature of the day rising, the action went down.

Every body needs a place to rest when it's hot.

So we decided that it might be time for a move toward the Adelaide River.
And this is just what we did.

Not long after starting to fish on the Adelaide, Jason got on his first Barra of the day:

Happy as a man who just caught a fish.

Yes, even after having lived outside of the Northern Territory for a few years, Jason was still able to find the Barramundi on one of his favourite rivers.
Not only he was able to find some fish, but he was able to put me on them too.
First I lost one at the boat, which if you ask me was totally unfair.
So we trolled again, when I got a nice little hit, and my line took a tangent for the bank.
Not wanting my fish to go straight for the snags, I thumbed my spool and jerked a bit the rod, and the fish started to swim my way. From the fight I quickly realised that it wasn't too big, but got a bit of a fright when it came boat side, as I had the impression to see a shark or a crocodile swim just under it.
Not knowing for sure what it was, or even if it wasn't just a figment of my imagination. The fish was rapidly lifted in the boat.

My dinner had been sorted.

At 56 cm (22.047244 Inches) it was just over the minimum legal size, and in the esky it went.
I was laughing at how I panicked when I had this small Barramundi on the line, thinking that it was going to be taken from me, by some underwater predator.
When Jason got a solid hit and was now connected to what was obviously a better fish.
As fast as possible I reeled in my lure, and got the net ready when I heard Jason scream: Oh there is a shark!!! Oh no!!!
And that was it:

When a shark gets the better part of your Barramundi.

Before I had even had the time to turn around with the net and to look at this big fish in the water, that shark had done his shark job... It had collected its tax, under the form of fresh food...
This is not the first time that I saw a shark taking part or even a full Barramundi from a hooked line. But this one was the fastest of them all. So fast that in fact, I didn't even see it.
But at least now I know that I had not dreamed when I had my smaller fish on the line, there are sharks in the water...

A bit further up the river, Jason caught another Barramundi:

Last Barramundi of the day.

All the fish we caught on the Adelaide, were very chrome looking. Not as fat as the fish we hooked in Corroboree billabong earlier in the day, but still very healthy.

Sadly it was starting to be late, and it was time to race down the river, toward the ramp and home.
As we started to make our way back, the weather dramatically changed, a storm seemed ready to pounce on us, and the sky kept changing all the way to the ramp, for the rain to start lightly falling only once we were in the car.
Yet the spectacle that the sky gave us, reminded me of one of the many reasons why I love going fishing in the Top End so much.






The multiple colours of the sky.

Yes I know, it is a lot of photographs of the sky, but I had forgotten how it can change so fast.
It was a good reminder of why I prefer going fishing than playing video games.

Thank you Jason for inviting me to fish from your boat.

And yes it is true, the best Barramundi of the trip was sharked...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 1

Hi there,

I know, I have been a bit absent for a while...
Sorry about that, I will now try to get back on the saddle, get ready for the ride.
Not so long ago, was the first round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series, or 2016 TEBS as some call it.
What is the story?
  • The first round was at Shady Camp.
  • Brett predicted that we might get just one fish each.
  • It was really hot weather.
  • The fishing wasn't so hot.
  • We ran into some kind of navigational trouble.

Yes, I am finally Back!

As I said, the first round for 2016 was, as it is traditionally done, at Shady Camp.
We had arrived early and found ourselves in the usual line of boats waiting to launch:


Launch ramp at Shady Camp.

It is said that the government will build a new more practicable boat ramp. But until then that is the way it is.
As we waited to launch, I saw a guy fishing land based, who got three Barramundi in three casts. This I told myself, is a very good sign, we are going to scoop the fish! Well sometime in fishing, like in life, things are not what it seems. The fishing was going to be more difficult than this. 
Brett did tell me a few times that I should go and flick a lure next to this guy who was doing so well. Stupidly, I thought that if he was getting such results from the bank, we were going to make a killing from the boat...
I should have done what Brett was saying.

First we went to one's of Brett's spot, and as we arrived he said: there is often some big mama Barra just right there on this corner.
And just as he had said, the sounder showed us a very big and fat Barramundi just where Brett had predicted that we might see some. Things were starting to look real good.
But not only we didn't tempt this big fish with our lures, but the sounder died nearly then and there...
And it was just early morning of the first of two days for the round.
Not getting any luck at the first stop, we decided to move on to the next one.

The water was dark and the weather uncertain.
We found a few comrades fishing the mouth of the little creek when we arrived, and they didn't had much success either.

Glenn and son fishing at the creek mouth.

Being on a smaller boat, we went straight up the creek, where the other boats couldn't go.
Alas, the fish weren't there either.
So we decided to go down the main river, troll the centre, and stop to flick lures at spots that would look fishy. While waiting for the tide to change.

Soon, we found a boat that looked like they were in trouble, the outboard cover was off, and the two lads were sitting with crossed arms... Never a good sign on a fishing boat.
After a short chit chat and a look at their outboard, Brett said that the best would be to tow them back to the ramp. And towing we did.
We must have been the smallest boat on the river that day, and as such we towed them at a rather slow pace.

Towing the broken down boat.

The guys in the towed boat started to troll lures at the back, and quickly one of them was on!
They signalled to us and we stopped so they could catch the little Barramundi that had taken the lure.

They got a fish while being towed.

As we restarted towing them, the slow speed, gave us ample time to admire the landscape and wildlife:

Salt water crocodile on the bank.

Salt water crocodiles or Crocodiles porosus as it is formally known, is represented in big number at Shady Camp. It has even be said that this is the place in the world with the biggest concentration of them per square meter. I do not know if this is true, but it is certain, that we see a lot of them, and big ones every times that we fish over there.
All together, it took us about two hours flat to get the broken down boat to the ramp.
The tide being by then pretty low, we fished the barrage for a while, without any luck at all.
So from there we moved to another barrage:

One of many barrage at Shady Camp.

Two guy who were fishing from the shore, got a nice fish just as we arrived. Tarpon were everywhere, surly this was going to be our lucky spot.
It was not to be, we didn't got anything from there. 

Moving along to a better spot was decided, but ...
Something was to happen...
As we moved up a little creek, the boat hit a submerged rock, and the outboard did too.
Prop and shaft were bent, that was bad.

With the outboard in this condition, Brett wisely decided that it would be safer to move back to the ramp, and see if we could catch a fish there.

And it worked, for Brett, he got his first Barramundi of the weekend there, and it was a point scorer! Maybe chance was finally going to smile at us?
Well, never ask for too much, or you might face deception.
Not only we didn't got any more fish there, except a few undersized ones for Brett, but I got nearly sun stroke.
When we finally put the boat back on the trailer, and started to drive back toward the motel, I started to feel like if I was going to pass out in the car. Too much sun, not enough drinking.
Luckily, the air con in the car was working well and I stayed awake.
Once at the motel, a nice cold shower, a soft drink at the bar, and a big steak, with pepper sauce and French fries, and I felt like brand new!
Still once in bed, I had no problem to fell asleep in about two point five seconds, and snore until the next morning.

At day break we were on the water edge again, but had decided to launch on the fresh water side of the barrage, as it would be safer with the state of the outboard.
At first we went to the barrage and jumped out of the boat to try to get a fish from there.

Brett fishing Shady Camp Barrage in the morning.

Lady luck must have still been in bed at that time, as we didn't get a single fish from there.
Brett said that he knew of another small barrage were we might find some fish, if water was flowing over it.
As we arrived to the said little barrage, water was flowing above it, and we started to get optimist.
But as we were about to land, I spotted a big water buffalo on the edge of it, not very far from us.
When I pointed to it, Brett, safely moved back the boat and said that we would go and try to fish from the other side.
Arriving on the other side, I saw a rather large crocodile, sliding in the water as he saw us.
Brett said that it was ok and that we should fish from there and might be able to catch a fish or two.
I couldn't help asking myself if fishing from a barrage that has a water buffalo on one side, and a crocodile on the other one was the best plan in the world? 
Yet I jumped out of the boat and by the time I walked to where we would be fishing from, Brett already had a small Barramundi at the end of his line. It was too small to be a point scorer, but at this point, this was all the encouragement we needed, and we started to get excited.
Brett missed a better fish just at our fish, and as my lure arrived in the same spot, the fish took it in earnest.
I was one, finally!
It was a very short fight, with a fish that was just a small point scorer.
But that was it, I was not on a donut anymore.
So we tried for a bit more on the same spot, but with no more luck.

Near the little barrage, in the fresh side.

Not long after, we decided to call it a day, and to go back home.
It was just 8:30am but the fishing had been very hard, and the broken outboard, was weighting on our minds.

So off we went back toward the ramp, and home.
Both at the ramp and on the road, we saw a lot of boat going back, the fishing had been hard for most.

Boats on the road back towards Darwin.

Yes, it had been a hard weekend, with not many fish. Brett's prediction that we might get just one point scorer each was right.
The outboard problems were a real concern, and the heat had been harsh.
Yet, we did have some good laugh, and some time out-there.
Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat, I still had a good time, and hope that we don't run into so many trouble next time.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.